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Review of


Joseph Valentine Breitwieser

Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, 1910, 416-417.


Nature and Causation of the Galvanic Phenomenon. BORIS SIDIS, Ph.D., M.D., and LOUIS NELSON, M.A., M.D. Psychological Review, March, 1910.


        Mental and physical conditions express themselves in various objective ways. The nature of the breathing, circulation, secretion of glands, etc., changes with alterations in the physical and mental states. Psychologists have found that along with other changes there are certain electrical phenomena.       

        Féré, Vigoroux, Jung, Peterson, Riekher, Veraguth, and others who have not reported their results, experimented with the galvanic phenomenon. Its source has been ascribed to various causes. These are reviewed in the article here reported on.

        According to a former article, by Sidis and Kalmus, they have affirmed the fact of the galvanic phenomenon in relation to certain psycho­physiological states and claim to have been able to exclude disturbances caused by contact effects, skin changes, and circulation. The experiments indicate that what may be called galvanic reactions do not depend on lowered resistance either bodily or cutaneous as a resultant of psycho­physiological processes, as other writers have suggested. Resistance, as a factor, was excluded and the phenomenon still was present as a function of an electromotive force set up by external and internal resistances.

        In these experiments, NaCl solution electrodes on definite areas were used. Batteries were entirely excluded in this and subsequent work.

        The experiments by Sidis and Nelson were carried on by means of platinum hypodermic electrodes inserted in various parts af the bodies of live rabbits. The galvanic deflections were read by means of a D'Arsonval galvanometer sensible to 225 megohms. The experimenters found that deflections were not caused by purely ideational processes. The galvanic reactions show themselves as a result af the electromotive-force-variations caused by muscular phenomena due to contraction, stretching, or straining.

        The muscular activity may be the result of various influences, psychic, sensory, physiological, chemical, thermal, electrical, or mechanical. The muscles in the circuit contribute mast af the electromotive farce. These muscles may be voluntary or involuntary.

        This, I think, summarizes briefly the work that has been carried an by Dr. Sidis. It is evident that many complicating factors must be considered. Electrical phenomena present themselves in so many situations. The measurements of galvanic deflections must be delicately done, in fact So delicately that other measurements will probably yield mare practical results far the psychologists. The methods used in the last experiments could not well be applied to human subjects. Cruder or less detailed methods would involve many vitiating complications. The pain and disturbances caused by hypodermic electrodes in themselves would be objectionable in trying to get at central influences.



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